Dubai unlikely to get US pre-clearance for at least 10 years, says airport boss

Dubai International Airport design makes it difficult to segregate pre-clearance passengers, Paul Griffiths reveals.
Dubai unlikely to get US pre-clearance for at least 10 years, says airport boss
By Ahmad Lala
Wed 06 May 2015 11:43 AM

Dubai is unlikely to get US pre-clearance facilities for at least 10 years, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths has revealed.

A pre-clearance facility was opened at Abu Dhabi Airport last year allowing passengers travelling to the US from Abu Dhabi to clear US immigration in the UAE capital before boarding their flights. On arrival in the US, passengers are treated as domestic arrivals and they do not need to go through passport control.

“We would love to put it in Dubai, but the difficulty with the US pre-clearance facility is that from the forecourt right to the aeroplane is effectively US soil. So you will have to segregate the passenger from the moment they arrive at the airport, right through the immigration process, security, through the departure gate, and on to the plane,” said Griffiths.

“Sadly, Dubai airport is designed to have common concourses and common terminals, so to get to the plane, you have to put everyone through the same channels, which makes it very difficult to achieve that level of segregation.”

Griffiths added that the intention was to have a pre-preclearance facility at the new Al Maktoum International Airport, but that would not be ready for at least another 10 years.

“With DWC, we are planning to put in place some designs, which will facilitate the pre-clearance of US passengers before they leave Dubai. Unfortunately, it is unlikely before DWC phase 2, which is another 10 years away," said Griffiths.

Last June, the US ambassador to the UAE has told Arabian Business the facility was set to be extended to include Dubai within 12 months.

Speaking at an event in Los Angeles to celebrate the launch of direct flights from Abu Dhabi on Etihad Airways, Michael Corbin said: "‎We are looking at Dubai as an option for pre-clearance. It has only been operational for a few months in Abu Dhabi but has been a huge success and we want to expand it in the UAE. President Obama has made it his priority to encourage more visitors to the US and this is a big part of that."

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